5.4.2 Holidays and School Trips Outside the UK

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This procedure applies to day trips and holidays within and outside the UK for all Looked After Children.

RELATED CHAPTER

In February 2021, this guidance was reviewed and updated throughout. Section 5, Insurance was updated to include details of how to apply for a Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) which provides access to reduced cost or free medical insurance in the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland. Section 6, Obtaining a Passport was also updated to link to reissued Home Office Guidance for Local Authorities Children's Services Departments when Applying for Passports on Behalf of Children.

1. Holidays for Accommodated Children

Arrangements for notifying and consulting the Social Worker about holiday plans should be agreed in the Placement Plan.

The consent of the parent(s) or person with Parental Responsibility must be obtained and consent form signed. This should be used to provide the following information:

  • Address where holiday is taken;
  • Responsible adult(s) accompanying the child including adult/child ratio if group holiday;
  • If the child is going with a family or person who is not known to Children's Services, whether the appropriate checks have been made;
  • Dates of holiday;
  • Views of the child;
  • If any cost to the Authority, including insurance;
  • Any additional information;

If it is a group day trip or holiday, the social worker must be satisfied that adequate health and safety precautions are taken.

Children must not be taken on holiday during term time unless there are exceptional circumstances that would be approved by the Social Worker's Manager for the child and the Head of School. Requests must be made in writing. (Note that under the Education (Pupil Registration) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2013, the previous ability of headteachers to grant leave of absence for the purpose of a holiday during term time in 'special circumstances' of up to ten school days leave per year has been removed.¬†The 2013 Regulations make clear that headteachers may not grant any leave of absence during term time unless there are 'exceptional circumstances'.)

2. Holidays for Children on Care Orders

The procedure is the same as for those for Accommodated Children (see Section 1, Holidays for Accommodated Children) except that the consent of the parents or person having Parental Responsibility is not required but should be obtained wherever practicable or possible. Any objections by the parent(s) should be recorded on the child's electronic records.

The social worker should ensure that arrangements are in place through the Placement Plan to be notified well in advance of any plans for holidays abroad in order to obtain required consent.

3. Holidays for Unaccompanied Asylum Seekers

The procedure is the same as for Accommodated Children (see Section 1, Holidays for Accommodated Children) except that:

  • Approval is unlikely if the child/young person wishes to go on their own and/or to a destination which could call into question the integrity of their original claim for asylum;
  • The child's social worker would have to endorse the holiday by signing the consent form.

4. When the Court's Permission is Required

If the child is the subject of a Care Order and the holiday abroad is for more than one month, an application must also be made to the appropriate Court for the Court's permission to allow the child to go abroad if the parent's written agreement is not obtained.

Where a Court Order is required, the social worker should contact Legal Services as soon as possible for the necessary application to be made and advise the parents of the intended application.

If the holiday is authorised by the Court, the holiday should be included in the Placement Plan.

5. Insurance

5.1 Healthcare for UK Nationals in the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland

The UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) provides access to state healthcare in Europe at a reduced cost, or sometimes for free.

  • If the child already has a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) this remains valid until the expiry date on the card;
  • If the child does not have a European Health Insurance Card or it has expired, they will need a Global Health Insurance Card. Cards can be ordered online from the NHS (see the NHS.UK website). For children under 16, the application should be completed by their carers.

The GHIC and EHIC do not replace travel insurance which should be in place for all holidays outside the UK. For the latest advice on the GHIC, see the GOV.UK website.

5.2 Travel Insurance Cover for Holidays

Carers should obtain travel insurance for all holidays overseas, this will cover a range of eventualities, including medical expenses, a trip being cut short or cancelled, and loss or theft of possessions. For more advice on travel insurance, see the GOV.UK website.

6. Obtaining a Passport

The Home Office provides Guidance for Local Authorities Children's Services Departments when Applying for Passports on Behalf of Children.

If Children's Social Care Services have previously applied for a passport on the child's behalf and are applying for a renewal or extension, a letter outlining the circumstances mentioned above stating that these have not changed is sufficient. In these circumstances there is no need to complete the application form. This should be signed by the Designated Manager (Passports).

Where there is a proposal for a child to go on holiday abroad and the child does not currently hold a valid passport, the request to the Designated Manager (Passports) in relation to the holiday should include a written request for the authority to obtain a passport for the child.

If it is an urgent application where an application is made in person, the social worker must provide evidence of their identity and a signed letter of authorisation from the Designated Manager (Passports).

Where the child requires a passport for any other reason, the approval of the Designated Manager (Passports) should be sought. The written request for such approval should include the reason for the request, the wishes of the child; the views of the parent; the views of the Staff/Carer where applicable. Where the Designated Manager (Passports) gives authority for a passport to be obtained for a child, this must be confirmed in writing. The social worker must inform the parent of the decision.

The social worker will obtain and complete the necessary application for the child or assist the child to complete the necessary application form.